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LIT’s Leadership and Advocacy Programme for People with Intellectual Disabilities

- Graduation ceremony addressed by Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State for Disability Issues

41 people graduated from LIT’s Leadership, Advocacy and Independent Living programme this week. The programme is for people with intellectual disabilities.

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The graduates, their families and friends were addressed by Finian McGrath TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for Disability Issues, who told them that higher education must be open to meaningful participation for people with disabilities.

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Minister McGrath said

'People with disabilities need to be allowed to participate in third level education in meaningful ways. Colleges like LIT are leading the way by providing valuable opportunities and developing courses to meet the needs of the disability sector'.

“I am delighted that people with disabilities have opportunities to learn about Human Rights, particularly now that we have ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. It is important that we all understand that we all have the same rights, duties and responsibilities. It is important that we continue to ensure that barriers to full participation in Irish society by people with disabilities are identified and addressed and the basic values of Irish society are respected by all.”

Speaking after she graduated from the programme, Helen Nagle from Ballyea said,

"The course changed my life. I never thought that I would be able to speak in front of a group before. Now I am looking forward to giving presentations to Social Care students on my experience of independent living."

Professor Vincent Cunnane, President of LIT commented,

“LIT is very much about access and about empowering people to achieve. We believe that Higher Education should be accessible for everyone who can benefit from it. The 41 graduates in the Leadership and Advocacy Class of 2018 are showing us the way in terms of meaningful participation in Higher Education, and are already applying what they have learnt".

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Cathy Jones, Head of the Department of LIT’s Applied Social Sciences stated that

'Our Department is very privileged to host this programme, it brings richness and diversity to our suite of programmes and allows for co-learning across our students within the Department. For example, our Social Care students hear first-hand about the experiences and wishes of people with disabilities, which will enhance and inform their future practice no end' Today is a great celebration of the achievement of these 41 students, and it is envisaged that this programme will lead to further employment and educational opportunities for many of the participants'.

The Leadership and Advocacy (LAA) programme for people with intellectual disabilities was set up by the LIT in 2009 in partnership Disability services in the greater Limerick, Clare, Tipperary and North Cork areas. Over 150 people have graduated from it to date.

The course runs in 3 LIT campuses; Moylish in Limerick, Thurles and Ennis. This programme has been recognized by Aontas and the National Learning Network for its contributions to adult and community education and has been shortlisted twice for a national Aontas STAR Award.

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